The Cheap Way to Get from Cusco to Ollantaytambo

June 12, 2013

So you have your train tickets to Machu Picchu booked, you have your entrance tickets arranged, but all you need to do now is get from Cusco to Ollantaytambo to catch the train. Paul Jones, a Cusco travel expert offers some insider knowledge on the cheap way to get from Cusco to Ollantaytambo.

Booking Your Ticket

If you haven’t yet booked any of your tickets and wish to search options for tours to Machu Picchu right away take a look at this page on FindLocalTrips.com.

If you haven’t decided upon train tickets from Poroy Train Station just outside of Cusco, you will probably be taking the train from Ollantaytambo Train Station in the Sacred Valley. This station is a long way from Cusco, about 1 hour and 45 minutes in fact. So how do you get there?


ENTERTAINMENT TIP: If looking for fun at night, or to watch sports during the day, or even a taste of home, visit the Wild Rover Hostel Cusco for great food, sports and beer! Entrance to their bar is free even for non-guests


From Avenida Grau, a 15 minute walk or a 5 minutes taxi ride from Cusco’s main square – Plaza de Armas, shared colectivos leave every 20 – 30 minutes for Ollantaytambo.  A colectivo is usually a small bus where the collective passengers share the cost of the journey. There are no scheduled times for collectivos, they simply wait until full before heading off. The journey from Cusco to Ollantaytambo takes around about 1 hour and 45 minutes, and costs 10 – 12 Soles per person. Colectivos range in quality, but typically on this route modern Toyota or Hyundai H1 vans with a capacity of 14 – 16 people are what you can expect. If you have luggage with you, you can either carry it on your lap or have the driver strap it to the roof rack (make sure its strapped on tight).

Yellow bus stop sign, Real Inka Colectivo Terminal in Ollantaytambo

Real Inka Colectivo Terminal in Ollantaytambo

One company that I have used on a regular basis is Real Inka Tourist Transportation (there are others available). Their fleet of colectivos are modern and comfortable and their drivers are even quite responsible (mine were any way). They also have a small depot at Ollantaytambo, a short 3 minute walk from the train station, so they are perfect for catching the train to Machu Picchu, and also for returning to Cusco after. They do have an official website as you can see from the photo, but in typical Peruvian fashion it has actually expired.

Note that colectivos operate from around 6am until about 6pm. So if you have a really early or really late train departure you might have to travel the day before or find an alternative method of transport.

See the terminal location in Cusco: Google Map
See the terminal location in Ollantaytambo: Google Map (between Pakuritapu Hotel and station).
See our overview map of the Sacred Valley

Warning

Several people travel straight to Cusco forgetting to allow time to acclimatize. For many, the effects of altitude are merely shortness of breath and a mild headache. However, these effects can become a very serious even life threatening issue if ignored. It is essential to plan ahead and prepare for possibility of altitude sickness may have on you when coming to Peru. Particularly those who feel they may be more sensitive to the effects of altitude.

The recommended way to acclimate properly is to ascend gradually spending at least 24 hours at every 2000ft. increase in altitude. If you intend on going from Cusco to Lima we recommend following Peru Hop‘s route to Cusco with stops in some other beautiful Peruvian destinations such as Huacachina, Arequipa and Puno. Most importantly, the route ascends progressively giving you some essential time to acclimatise to the thinner air and prevent any issues when you get to Machu Picchu.

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Comments
  1. JULIA YAMAMOTO

    Hello Paul, My husband & I will be in Peru in august & would like to know 2 things please. First, we want to get airport transfers from Lima airport to Miraflores as cheaply as we can & want to be able to pay with our credit card – can you give any advice?
    Secondly, we are flying to Cusco on a 10 am flight & we are going straight to Ollantaytambo for 3 nights, to acclimatise, rather than staying in Cusco, which we will do later, We are thinking of getting Cruz del Sur from Cusco to Ollanta, but they don’t depart until 2 pm – are the ‘collectivos’ safe on that road, or would you suggest Cruz del Sur? Also, can you tell us how much it will cost in a taxi from Cusco airport to both of the suggested methods of travel to Ollanta? Cruz… can be pre-booked & paid, where with the collectivos you just go there & they leave when full. Maybe Cruz…. would be more comfortable, even though we’d have to ‘hang around’ which asks the question – is it saft to ‘hang around’ & if we did would it be better to wait in the airport, or does Cruz… have a safe waiting room? Thanks & would really appreciate your advice.
    Finally, is the ‘historic’ Lima as dangerous as everyone says, or could we safely walk around there & what about at night? Would love to see the ‘lit up’ buildings at night.
    I look forward to your reply & would appreciate an early reply, as may want to book Cruz,,,, & they are already selling seats for our dates.
    Best regards, Julia

  2. Hi Julia,

    I recommend that you pay for Green Taxi’s to take you from Lima Airport to Miraflores or ask if you lodgings have transport. Be careful with cheap taxis, they might just rob you. Green taxi may accept credit cards? not sure.

    Cruz del Sur to Ollanta is about US$ 7-8 per person, a colectivo to (mini van) is about 10 Soles. Are colectivos safe? There are so many different vehicles out there, it is difficult to say. They do drive fast on those mountain roads and overtake when they shouldn’t! It’s your call.

    Instead of waiting, why not take a cab to town (8 Soles) and have some lunch? Cusco is 10 minutes from the airport. I believe the Cruz del Sur service departs from it’s own station, but I might be wrong; I haven’t had time to look at this service yet.

    Historic Lima during the day is fine, I would even say if you are on the main plaza at night time it is also fine, but you wouldn’t want to be walking around the back streets after dark. I have been many times in the say and at night, and never felt worried. It’s much better now than before!

    Enjoy Peru!

  3. JULIA YAMAMOTO

    Hi Paul, Just found your reply on the ‘net’ – was very surprised to see my name there! I hope people all over the world don’t start emailing me! Thanks for the info – now, for your info Cruz del Sur is stopping going to Ollanta at the end of July, so it’s either a collective or taxi – you say the road is mountainous – Inca Rail says it goes mainly through ‘crops’. They told me about Cruz… stopping service – after finding the other day that Cruz… was showing ‘no service’ for August on their website, I emailed Inca Rail & they told me. Good to know ‘historic Lima’ is ok – thanks for that. Appreciate your help & I’m sure we’ll enjoy Peru. Regards, Julia. PS Bit of a worry that you say the colectivos drive fast & overtake when they shouldn’t, but we haven’t heard of any bad accidents over here in OZ. Re taxi from Lima airport – our hotel is arranging it.

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